Summer is coming.

Before the focus turns to beach trips and down time, let's take one last chance to look back on the 2018-19 school year.

Here are some of the top stories in Livingston Parish sports from the school year that was.

COOK, YOUNG NAB TOP BASKETBALL HONORS: A player from Livingston Parish had not won the state's coveted Mr. Basketball award since 2005. Never had a player from the parish won the Miss Basketball award.

Remarkably, players from the parish won both awards in 2019.

And from the same school.

Walker High swept the top basketball awards as junior Jalen Cook was named Mr. Basketball and senior Tiara Young won Miss Basketball.

A year after helping Walker win its first state championship in boys basketball, Cook had the Wildcats on the brink of a repeat as they advanced to the state title game for the second straight season. The two-sport standout did not miss a beat as he transitioned from the football field. Elevating his scoring average to 29.5 points, Cook led the team in scoring for the third straight season. He earned all-state accolades for the first time.

Young was a newcomer to the parish after transferring from Evangel in Shreveport for her senior season. The LSU signee was all the Lady Cats could have hoped, going tit-for-tat with Cook in the scoring column as she also averaged 29 points. For her career, Young finished with nearly 4,500 points over six varsity seasons. Walker advanced to the state semifinals, marking the first state tournament appearance for the Lady Cats since 2015.

Both players won the state's Gatorade player of the year award as well.

DENHAM SPRINGS, WALKER GIRLS MEET AT STATE: The Denham Springs girls basketball team had the final say in a season series with Walker that breathed more life into their great rivalry.

And it wasn't without controversy.

With about six minutes to play in their state semifinal game, Young was called for her fourth personal foul and then, based on her reaction to the original call, assessed a technical foul. The two whistles against Young resulted in her fouling out. Denham took advantage, turning a tense 29-29 affair into a 48-33 victory.

Two nights later, the Yellow Jackets were defeated by hot-shooting Captain Shreve in the state championship game.

WALKER FOOTBALL LANDS MAHAFFEY: Months after leading University High to its third Division II state championship in five seasons, coach Chad Mahaffey jumped to Walker in a move the Wildcats hope will bring stability to their trending football program.

Walker has experienced some of its best on-field success (making three straight playoff appearances, hosting two playoff games) during a time when its head coaching position has been something of a revolving door.

Mahaffey is the fifth head coach for the Wildcats in six seasons.

Two games into last season, Lester Ricard resigned abruptly after being placed on administrative leave. Interim coach Cecil Thomas was named the permanent coach prior to the playoffs, but vacated the position in January to take the same job at Sulphur.

DUNCAN REPEATS: Denham Springs junior Paige Duncan made it back-to-back state singles titles when she returned home once again as the Division I tennis champion.

No one was surprised to see Duncan win, but was she supposed to have made it look so easy? The repeat champ lost only six games during her five matches at the state tournament, wrapping up her title run with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Iris Westmoreland in the final.

Duncan also hoisted regional hardware for the second year in a row.

HOLDEN SOFTBALL THREE-PEATS: One of the great stories to follow next spring will be the pursuit by Holden pitcher Olivia Lackie and her senior teammates of four state softball championships in as many seasons.

With their dominant junior pitcher yet again leading the way, the Lady Rockets reached the top of Class B softball this year by holding state-tournament opponents Zwolle and Forest to one combined run.

Lackie and other key juniors like Ashley Fogg welcomed a talented group of eighth-graders to the fold this season. The team had no seniors.

SIMMS, AIME SOAR HIGH: Livingston Parish placed two athletes in gold medals at the LHSAA state outdoor track and field meet this spring. Both athletes won in the pole vault.

In Class 5A, Live Oak sophomore Clayton Simms burst onto the scene this season, not only winning the state outdoor title but the indoor championship as well. He picked up the sport a year ago. In Class B, Maurepas junior Kameron Aime continued to make winning marks look like old hat as he won his fourth straight state outdoor title. Aime won the Class C championship in 2016 (as an eighth-grader) to begin his great run.

DOYLE PLACES SECOND IN BASEBALL: Doyle baseball had one of its best seasons, methodically navigating its way to a District 10-2A championship, a No. 2 seed in the 2A playoffs and, ultimately, a runner-up finish at the state tournament.

It was the deepest playoff run for the Tigers since 2001, when they competed in Class B.

In district play, Doyle won series against French Settlement and St. Thomas Aquinas — two teams that also experienced playoff success — to win the league with a 7-2 mark.

The Tigers defeated Welsh in the state semifinals before falling to Kinder in the championship game.


Scott Hotard covers sports for The Livingston-Tangipahoa Advocate. He can be contacted at shotard44@gmail.com or livingston@theadvocate.com.